EU Science Hub

Sharing knowledge to protect our marine environment

Breaking waves
Oct 07 2014

The JRC has set up the MSFD Competence Centre (MCC) to help EU countries achieve ‘Good Environmental Status’ of their marine waters by 2020, the main aim of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). In achieving this aim, the MSFD seeks to protect the fragile balance of marine ecosystems, upon which many economic and social activities such as fishing or tourism depend.

The MCC acts as a science-policy interface, facilitating cooperation and information exchange for the successful implementation of the Directive.

The MCC constitutes a platform on which to share knowledge and scientific expertise on methods and modelling tools, and provides access to guidance, assessments and reviews. It is the result of a close collaboration between the European Commission, the European Environment Agency, EU Member States, Regional Sea Conventions (RSCs), the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the European research community.

The MCC will act as a single entry point for policy-review activities, including the current review of the criteria and methodological standards for good environmental standards, which are key to achieving the MSFD goal. It will also provide useful modelling tools for the assessment of MSFD descriptors and serve as a knowledge broker, bridging the science-policy divide by feeding the implementation and adaptation process with relevant knowledge from the scientific community. The MCC has a web interface that brings together relevant tools and information, including assessment approaches, methodological standards or links to other related initiatives, such as the European Marine Observation and Data network (EMODnet).

Launch at the EurOCEAN 2014 conference

The new MSFD Competence Centre was launched today by JRC Director for Environment and Sustainability, Maria Betti, at the EurOCEAN 2014 conference in Rome. This conference brings together marine scientists from across the broad range of disciplines, policymakers, and representatives of industry and NGOs, to develop a common vision for achieving an ecosystem approach to the management of Europe’s marine resources, a fundamental requirement for sustainable Blue Growth.


European seas and oceans provide benefits that can be enjoyed by everyone. They also have enormous intrinsic value, whereby they support clean coastal and marine environments and wildlife, and play an important role in keeping our climate stable. However, traditional activities (transport, fishing, tourism) now sit alongside, and often compete with, more recent activities such as mineral extraction and renewable energy production. The unsustainable use of our seas threatens the fragile balance of marine ecosystems.

The aim of the European Union's Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), adopted in 2008, is to more effectively protect the European marine environment. The Directive aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of the EU's marine waters by 2020, and each Member State is required to develop a strategy for this. As the Directive follows an adaptive management approach, these strategies must be kept up-to-date and reviewed every six years.